A retired British couple

A retired British couple


The new population figures were released this week which showed a massive increase in the number of British residents. There are now 18,000 British residents across the islands, an increase of 2,000. There is a simple reason for the rise; the Spanish and British government had told expats to get legal before the Brexit deadline otherwise they could be politely asked to leave. And it has worked.

The message was received loud and clear. But why did such a large number of expats not have their paperwork in order in the first place? When Britain was a member of the European Union it was a quick and easy system to become a resident but still many thought twice or even three times!

It also meant that they were missing out on many advantages from the vote in local elections to discounted travel between the islands and the mainland. In expat circles there is an old adage which says never raise your head above the parapet; keep your head down because you never know what the tax authorities are doing, is another sentence I have heard many times.

But when push came to shove all these old sayings went out the window. You had no option but to get legal, otherwise it could have been adios amigos. For years now the official figures have shown a decline in the number of expat Brits. What we all knew is that the official figures were one thing and the unofficial figures were another.

15,000 registered 30,000 living here. Now, it is a question of 18,000 registered and 18,000 living here. I suspect that there are a few people still keeping their heads down but many others have become part of the headcount.


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Andrew / Hace 9 months

The reason for this is because Mallorca has many PART-YEAR residents who spend between 3 and 6 months of the year on the Island. Prior to Brexit, there were two ways of doing that completely legally: 1. Keep each visit under 90 days and visit as a tourist. or 2. Register as a resident at the 90 day point with proper health insurance, proof of funds etc.

The problem that Brits are facing right now are simply:

1. The withdrawal agreement means people believe they will lose their residency if absent for more than 6 months of the year so they are unsure whether or not to bother registering if they think they can manage going forward under the tourist rules.

2. Once you register, you have to swap your driving licence, which you can't do at the moment because Spain will not allow it.** Also, you can't swap your licence if you are not there for more than 185 days. Only golden visa holders have exemptions to the resident driving licence rules at present.

So this is a very silly catch 22 which is confusing people. There are very simple solutions to this that I could explain and I hope that the Gobierno de Baleares will help us resolve them.

(**as an aside, you'll be surprised to learn that Spanish people can use Spanish driving licences in the UK regardless of whether they are tourists or long term settled residents. If they wish to swap it, it is optional and can be done without taking a driving test.)


Sara O. / Hace 9 months

No doubt they consider tax avoidance to be more advantageous than voting or travel discounts. Selfish is putting it mildly. I hope they eventually get caught and heavily fined or deported but I very much doubt that will happen.